On Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency ahead of a grand jury decision that is currently determining whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The action activated the use of the National Guard, which was met with widespread concern from community members who are on edge and fear police crackdown — similar to the outcome from initial protests that occurred immediately following Brown’s death.
Meanwhile, the National Guard has been ordered to assist local and state police to quell any potential violence that may result from the grand jury’s decision.
The killing of Brown, who was black, and Wilson, who is white, has sparked large demonstrations speaking out against racial injustice and many protesters have criticized Nixon’s latest call and claim it to be unnecessary.
“We think it’s an overreaction by the governor. He’s already trained 1,000 officers to respond. We don’t think the national guard is necessary,” DeRay Mckesson, a key activist and organizer in Ferguson, told HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill Tuesday.
“Remember, we [protesters] haven’t done anything. Today is the 102nd day of protests, there have been two days of looting out of 102 days, so what it shows us is that Missouri is afraid of black bodies assembling.”
Mckesson and other activists have created critical infrastructure in planning peaceful protests in preparation for the coming days, including a newsletter and rules of engagement listing their expectations from police interactions with protesters. He has also helped to coordinate and write an open letter detailing the purpose of the movement along with other Ferguson protesters and allies.
Meanwhile, McKesson claims that the active demonstrators are in a different place in the protest than those held in August and he describes the latest movement in Missouri as “mature.”
“In August, we were emotional, angry, we were justifiable enraged. Now, we are all of those things, and strategic and thoughtful,” he said.
HuffPost Black Voices’ Editor Lilly Workneh joined the discussion and provided a historical context on the involvement of the national guard during some of America’s most notable race riots.
“I’ll put it in perspective – the last time this did happen, aside from Ferguson, was in 1992 during the Rodney King Riots. The first time it happened was in 1957 with Little Rock Nine and the integration of blacks in schools in Arkansas,” Workneh said.
Workneh went on to explain that the latest call for the national guard marks the 11th time such a declaration has been made in black history, with many of the prior instances often inciting further violence.
Patrisse Cullors, the executive director of Dignity Power Now and the co-creator of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatters, was also a part of the discussion and shared her sentiments on the lack of faith she has in law enforcement maintaining the peace in Ferguson.
“Let’s be clear, law enforcement is only taught to escalate violence. Law enforcement doesnt actually know how to de-escalate violence. Riot gear, bullets, rubber bullets and tanks rolling down the street does not de-escalate violence,” Cullors said.
“This call for state of emergency is, to me, an actual threat to the community in Ferguson and St. Louis and a threat to black folks across the country. We’re watching.”
Check out more of the HuffPost Live discussion in the clip above.